The Confidence Factor: WFC Preview 2019

Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte annually ranks as one of the toughest tracks on TOUR and checked in No. 1 in 2017 and No. 5 last year.

Jason Day returns to try and do what 15 previous winners have not: defend the title.

Wells Fargo Championship

Quail Hollow Club

Charlotte, N.C.

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,544
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: 6,578 square feet; G12 Champion Bermuda over-seeded with Poa Trivialis.
Stimpmeter: 12′
Rough:  Celebration Bermuda at 2″ over-seeded with perennial ryegrass.
Bunkers: 61
Water Hazards: 4
Architect(s): George Cobb (1961); Tom Fazio redesign (2002-16).
Purse: $7.9 million; $1.422 winner plus 500 FedExCup Points.
Defending Champion: Jason Day (-12).
Notes: Field of 156, stroke play, top 70 and ties play the weekend.

Previous Winners:

Year Winner Score Comment
       
2018 Jason Day -12 Only second winner to put all four rounds in the 60’s; won by two in first start since ’12 but was T9 at PGA in ’17.
2017 Justin Thomas PGA Championship -8 Like Day, made a ton on the greens, which isn’t easy to do here.
2016 James Hahn -9 Defeated Roberto Castro in a playoff after Rickie Fowler couldn’t close the 54-hole lead.
2015 Rory McIlroy -21 Won by seven and set about every record.
2014 J.B. Holmes -14 Last year played on Bentgrass.
2013 Derek Ernst -8 Defeated David Lynn in a playoff after 54-hole co-leaders Mickelson and Watney faltered.
2012 Rickie Fowler -14 Beat Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points in a playoff.
2011 Lucas Glover -11 Beat Jonathan Byrd in a playoff after sticking all four rounds in the 60s.
2010 Rory McIlroy -15 Set the course record for the first time (62) on Sunday to beat Mickelson by four.

2018-19 Winners

Event Winner
   
Safeway Open Kevin Tway**
CIMB Classic Marc Leishman
CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES Brooks Koepka
Sanderson Farms Championship Cameron Champ**
WGC-HSBC Champions Xander Schauffele
Shriners Hospitals for Children Bryson DeChambeau
Mayakoba Golf Classic Matt Kuchar
The RSM Classic Charles Howell III
Hero World Challenge* Jon Rahm
Sentry TOC Xander Schauffele (2)
Sony Open in Hawaii Matt Kuchar (2)
60th Desert Classic Adam Long**
Farmers Insurance Open Justin Rose
Waste Management Rickie Fowler
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Phil Mickelson
Genesis Open J.B. Holmes
WGC-Mexico Championship Dustin Johnson
The Honda Classic Keith Mitchell**
Arnold Palmer Invitational Francesco Molinari
THE PLAYERS Rory McIlroy
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
WGC-Match Play Kevin Kisner
Corales Punta Cana Graeme McDowell
Valero Texas Open Corey Conners**
83rd Masters Tournament Tiger Woods
RBC Heritage C.T. Pan**
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Ryan Palmer & Jon Rahm (2)

(* unofficial event; **First-time winner)

Facts and Figures:

QHC has hosted every season with the exception of 2017 as it was preparing for the PGA Championship later that year.

Tournament Record: 267 (-21); McIlroy, 2015
Course Record: 61; McIlroy, Round 3, 2015.
Defending Champions since 2000: None.
Multiple Winners (entered) McIlroy (2010, 2015).
First TOUR win (recent): Ernst, 2013.
First Appearance: McIlroy, Ernst
Second Appearance: 5 in total; Schwartzel, Spieth and Willett this decade.
Margin of Victory: 6 shots (Singh, 2005).
Low Round 2018: 62; Peter Uihlein, Round 3.
Odd Fact: This is the only course where Tiger Woods (not playing this week) has MC twice as a pro.
Odd Fact II: The only defending champ to cash inside the top 20 is Rory McIlroy in 2016 (T4).
Odd Fact III: QHC changed putting surfaces 3 times in 3 years (bent, Miniverde, G12 champion).

 The Confidence Factor was the weekly column I wrote for PGATOUR.COM. It has evolved into Horses for Courses. I’ve included the link here for you.

Trend or Not a Trend?

Stats 2018 2017 2016 2015
  Jason Day Justin Thomas James Hahn Rory McIlroy
Winning Score 272 PGA Champ 279 267
  Par-71 Par-71 Par-72 Par-72
         
Distance of All Drives 9 1 26 1
Driving Accuracy T49 T62 T20 T19
Greens in Regulation T69 T17 T13 T2
Ball-Striking 55 T17 8 1
Proximity to the Hole 59 T29 T13 3
Putting: BOB % T1 T3 T7 1
SG: Off-the-Tee 19 22 11 1
SG: Approach-the-Green 50 16 42 1
SG: Around-the-Green 1 22 20 42
SG: Putting 2 4 8 20
SG: Tee-to-Green 9 11 10 1
Scrambling 2 T30 53 5
Bogey Avoidance T2 T13 T17 1
Par-3 Scoring T13 T19 T74 T50
Par-4 Scoring T4 T1 T1 1
Par-5 Scoring T2 T11 T5 3

Horses for Courses

Each week I’ll put the major players in here. There are always exceptions to rules and “new” players every year so use this as a guide or tiebreaker.

If they are not on this list, they do not have a top 10 here.

Player Cuts Top Top Most Best/Notes
  Made 10s 25s Recent  
           
Jason Day 3/3 2 3 Win (2018) First appearance since ’12
Nick Watney 9/12 3 8 T2 (2018) T10 2013, 8 2012
Aaron Wise 1/1 1 1 T2 (2018) first appearance
Phil Mickelson 14/14 10 12 T5 (2018) T11 or better last 5
Paul Casey 2/4 1 1 T5 (2018) T41 2016
Patrick Reed 5/5 1 1 8 (2018) T2 2017 PGA
Luke List 2/3 1 2 T9 (2018) T16 debut 2013
           
Hideki Matsuyama 4/4 0 2   T5 2017 PGA
Chris Stroud 6/10 0 0   T9 2017 PGA
           
Roberto Castro 4/4 2 2 P2 (2016) T8 2014
Justin Rose 5/7 2 2 3 (2016) 5 2014; ’16 last visit
Rory McIlroy 7/8 6 7 T4 (2016) 2010, 2015 champ
Rickie Fowler 7/7 3 5 T4 (2016) 2012 Win; T5 ’17 PGA
Lucas Glover 10/14 5 6 8 (2016) 2011 champ
Danny Lee 4/6 1 2 T9 (2016) MC 2018, T13 2015
           
Webb Simpson 6/9 2 4 T2 (2015) 4 2012; Member
Gary Woodland 6/7 1 3 T4 (2015) only MC last year
Robert Streb 4/5 1 2 T4 (2015)  
Kevin Streelman 3/8 2 3 T9 (2015) T6 2013
Brendan Steele 5/6 1 2 T9 (2015) T14 2016
J.B. Holmes 7/11 2 3 Win (2014) T9 2011
           
Rory Sabbatini 8/14 3 3 T8 (2014) 3 2011, T3 2007
           
Brian Harman 5/6 1 1 T10 (2013) 2017 win wasn’t at QHC
Vaughn Taylor 6/12 3 3 T10 (2013) 3 in a row here
Charles Howell 11/15 2 6 T10 (2013) T38 or better 3 of 4
           
Player Cuts Top Top Most Best/Notes
  Made 10s 25s Recent  
           
D.A. Points 3/9 1 2 T2 (2012) MC last 3
Jonathan Byrd 5/14 3 4 T9 (2012) 2 2011, T5 2009
           
Bill Haas 7/14 2 4   4 (2011) T4 2006
Zach Johnson 8/11 1 4 T6 (2011) T14 2014 last visit
Pat Perez 7/12 1 4 T6 (2011) T2 was at Eagle Point
Stewart Cink 9/12 3 6 T9 (2011) 4 of last 5 T23 or better
Padraig Harrington 4/9 2 2 T9 (2011) T7 2010; MC last 4
           
J.J. Henry 8/15 1 4 T7 (2010) T33 best since
Matt Jones 5/7 1 2 T10 (2010)  
Sergio Garcia 7/8 1 3 T2 (2005) First trip since 2013

Thoughts

The TOUR is in a big yard this week and for the second year running it’s Par-71 so that won’t help either. The rough is only two inches, so that’s good news, but there were only three players double-digits under-par last year so yeah.

Navigating doglegs requires premium ball-striking, if not premium recovery shots. Big greens provide targets for recovery but in year two they should still be firm as the G12 Champion beds in. Missing fairways and greens usually equals making recovery chips, pitches and eventually putts.

This week players who take advantage of position A on the fairways and greens should post the lowest scores but there will be plenty of bogeys, and others, to go around. Accepting bogey isn’t a killer this week; there are holes in which that will be the case (see: The Green Mile).

As Jason Day showed us last year great shots are greatly rewarded while everything else is going to be earned. Not many bunters have surprised here so it’s the bomb-gouge-putt crew that should break any ties for me this week.

The Chalk

Rory McIlroy: Er yeah. Only multiple winner and his worst finish when making the cut at WFC or PGA is T22. The next worse is T16. The next worse is T10. Not bad from nine starts.

Rickie Fowler: Beating McIlroy in a playoff in 2012 breaks the ties for me. His T9 at Augusta posted all four rounds under-par so I’m not worried about his form either. He should have won in 2016 as well. I’ll be interested to see if the CADDY NETWORK JINX is in effect or a thing as bagman Joe Skovron had a great article in there this week.

Jason Day: The defending champ comes in sailing after T5 at Augusta. That’s his fifth, top-13 finish in eight events in 2019.

Phil Mickelson: The ageless one and his MASSIVE CALVES return to a happy hunting ground where he racks up top-five finishes for fun. In classic Fill Fashion he’s never closed the door here but the Fazio layout rarely gives him any trouble.

Justin Rose: WIN, CLANG, CLANG, T8, T9 and Masters MC. He returns after back-to-back top-five finishes and should stick out this week again. I get if you’re mad at him because of Augusta…

Paul Casey: 10 of his last 12 rounds here are par or better including the last six. The Valspar champ backed up his performance in Tampa with T9 at Match Play and 81 at the Masters. Now that he’s got THAT out of the way, normal service should resume on a track that fits his ball-striking prowess to a T.

Webb Simpson: T38 is the worst of the previous nine starts on his home turf. The member went close in 2012 and 2015 (not really, seven back but was T2) and knows how to handle everything by now. He won’t have an advantage on the greens since they’ve changed so many times recently but not many enjoy putting on Bermuda more than this guy. He’ll be in the fairway all day and that’s an advantage here.

Lucas Glover: It’s news now in fantasy land when he doesn’t hit the top 20! Shook off the rust of MC at HTGL with Chez Reavie last week as he returns to his part of the world. I’d expect another big finish from the 2009 T2 and 2011 champ.

Jason Kokrak: This wouldn’t surprise me, or any gamers, one bit as he’s playing the best golf of his life and this track is perfect for what he does. He’s in the top 15 in approach and tee-to-green and his confidence should be through the roof.

Gary Woodland: A monster from tee-to-green, Woodland checks in at No. 2 in birdies and No. 12 in scoring. His run of six straight at WFC ended last year but his skill set should thrive again this year.

Patrick Reed: Trending here over the last few years and the proof is enhanced by T2 at the PGA Championship. I’ve referred to him as the “American Jason Day” before because of his short game. He’s also a Fazio fan it appears.

Kevin Streelman: Closed with 64 at VTO for sixth and backed that up with T6 on Hilton Head Island. Sorry those that rode him in the partner’s game last week but I’m definitely back on board this week. His stretch from 2013-2015 > MC last two visits.

Hideki Matsuyama: Just stop. He’s in the top 2 in approach and tee-to-green. MAKE A PUTT ALREADY. I like that he’s healthy and has had a nice run of events. Should be ready to POP POP POP this week. Until he gets injured on the range before the first round.

Rory Sabbatini: Two reasons: He’s only missed this event once (2016) and he’s racked up back-to-back top-10 paychecks the last two weekends. #HeatCheck.

Tony Finau: Burned by him at every event over the last two months with the exception of the Masters, Finau’s power and ability to hit GIR pushes him out of the group below. He closed here with 66 last year, his best in 12 tries.

Next Tier

Charles Howell III: Let make a deal. I’ll let you know the weeks you SHOULDN’T take him (See: RBC Heritage “Fades”).

J.B. Holmes: The 2014 champ should have good vibes this week knowing that he doesn’t have to dial down or manage what he does best: hit bombs. He’ll tee it up for the 12th time in Charlotte.

Joel Dahmen: Sometimes it’s easy to over-think it. I’ll ride six straight weekends with five T30 or better.

J.T. Poston: This should surprise anyone who regularly reads this column. Both of you will have a leg up on the field this week as the NC native is flying after T6 at RBC and T22 at Zurich.

Matt Jones: Like most on here, the Aussie didn’t have many problems at Torrey (T13) and Valero (T30). Can’t remember the last time he MC!

Trey Mullinax: Move him up! He had a taste of it last week with Stallings before stalling out (77, T13). He was in the discussion two weeks ago on Hilton Head. I’m not giving up yet.

Ben An: Blew a tire for his first MC in forever at HHI will scare away the meek. I’m stupid so there’s a difference!!!

Sung Kang: Tackled Torrey with T20 and T18 at Valero shows me he can handle BIG CHICKEN.

Luke List: He should be in the sleepers but he’ll be overbought after T9 last year.

K.H. Lee: I’ve shortened his name here so the CTRL-F mafia glances past him and moves on. After a dismal start to the season his T3 last week was his second top-10 payday in his last six. Top 45 in fairways AND GIR never hurts.

Sungjae Im: Im on board until Im not. With seven top 25s and four top 10s, it’s not hard to see why. He’s in the top 25 SG: tee to green and total. #Proof.

Aaron Wise: Don’t forget he closed 68-67 at Augusta the last time we saw him and was T2 here last year. Oh, wait. You did NOT see him as CBS showed exactly ONE SHOT of his during the final round. Look it up.

Danny Lee: I always forget how far he hits it. Last time he was required to swing it at Valero he cashed T7. Of 19 rounds THIRTEEN are in the red here. #McIlroy-ian.

I Have No Idea

Sergio Garcia: Remember when he was ANGRY in the Middle East? Or when he MC at the Masters? Right. Balled out with Tommy Fleetwood last week to almost win the Couples Sunday Social. First visit since 2013 for this event so I’m invoking the JASON DAY CLAWSE here. Or you can fade him to death as the last two events he’s played well in have been MICKEY MOUSE (Match Play, Parnters).

Form/Long Shots/Course Horse/DFS

Peter Uihlein: Shot 62 here last year but his 2019 hasn’t been much to write about.

Peter Malnati: Some will entertain the thought knowing he led after 36 holes last year and had a big week in New Orleans last week. Or he’ll provide the blueprint showing how you can’t game QHC over four consecutive rounds. #PowerOutage.

Michael Thompson: “Slick” won’t mind fast greens as he’s a great putter. His T10 at HHI two weeks ago was his sixth T16 or better in 2019.

Roberto Castro: He should be up the list as he and fellow Georgia Tech alum Cam Tringale got after it last week. His playoff loss here to Hahn plus a T8 in 2014 doesn’t push me away either.

Hank Lebioda: Lefty has bombed away and his best two paychecks this season on his own ball are Torrey and TPC San Antonio.

Vaughn Taylor: There are horses for courses (see article above) and course horses. He’s the latter.

Daniel Berger: I saw signs of life as he opened with 66-69 at Harbour Town. Of 12 rounds at QHC he’s posted seven in the red. It’s something.

Keith Mitchell: He’s getting back to “normal” this week as he’s not playing his first _________ or dealing with being a new winner. Power players will break all ties for me this week.

Denny McCarthy: He’s 43rd in scoring and 51st SG: Total plus has cashed in five of six. UVA grad should feel good in this part of the world after breaking his maiden last year.

Fabian Gomez: DFS dreamer as he picked up a T9 here in 2016 and has a pair of top-25s in his last three starts on TOUR.

Tom Hoge: Gut-shot, home-game, long-shot play of the week. IT’S NOT A SANDWICH, OK?

Jim Knous: Cashed 5 of 6 and put all four rounds under-par at Torrey for T29.

Johnson Wagner: Best two visits for this member are the last two.

Curtis Luck: Just plug him in as your last man and send me $$ mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

Wyndham Clark: Cashed in 12 of 16 and isn’t not afraid to swing out of his shoes. Maybe he’ll do a Jason Day imitation for the long-shot bunch if his putter gets white-hot.

Bud Cauley Section:

Bud Cauley: HE’S BACK BABY! We all have our white whales and he’s mine. He now has his own section FFS. He’s 42nd in scoring average so don’t @ me.

Cameron Champ: Did you know he hits it a long way? No, seriously, he does. He’s absolutely loved every week by everyone. Not me. This week makes sense because his power, with a hint of accuracy, should give him an advantage.

Fades

Henrik Stenson: Every year he plays, he ends up this column. His best round of 16 is 70, once. Baiowa.

Brian Harman: He didn’t win here in 2017. This season has been one to forget to the lefty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter (@MikeGlasscott) or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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